from the website:

Archaeological work suggests that Aboriginal people have lived in the area for at least 22,000 years. The Anangu people are Uluru's traditional custodians but until recently, the famous monolith was known as Ayers Rock, named after former premier Sir Henry Ayers by European explorer William Gosse, who first sighted the rock in 1873. Uluru was returned to the care and ownership of the Anangu in 1985 and they now jointly manage the national park with Parks Australia. There is a $25 entry fee into Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park which allows multiple entry for three consecutive days. A range of accommodation from camp sites to five-star luxury is available at the Ayers Rock Resort in the township of Yulara, purpose built to service travellers to the Park. The Yulara Visitors Centre provides information on local history, geology, flora, fauna and culture and sells souvenirs and educational gifts...

Uluru is a family name associated with the area.

In 1985, land rights were offically returned to Aborigines. Yet, if you want to visit Uluru, you pretty much have no choice but to stay at the Ayers Rock resort complex. A company called Voyages rents the very valuable land from Aborigines. The resort and website are named Ayers Rock Resort - and if anything a website would have been a good place to address the issues, educate tourists before they visit.

By not insisting on the name Uluru, it's like saying to Aborigines that they are too much of an inconvenience. Their rights are too inconvenient, tourism is more important, it's more important that no tourist is confused for a moment or ever stops to think about Australian history, perhaps thereby spoiling his vacation by thinking about white exploitation of land, resources, Indigenous people's rights.

Tourism is important to Australia. Tourists would not fork out the cash just to visit any old hotel in the desert. The extraordinary monoliths draw tourists - not the hotels. Yes, tourists do need accommodation and amenities, but perhaps the people who own the land should charge higher rent, or be made more aware of the true value of what they own.

[Wikipedia: The Northern Territory government leased the incredibly valuable land to Voyages for one dollar per square kilometre[citation needed]]

When I stayed at the Ayers Rock Resort in 2001, I did not notice many - if any - Aboriginal employees. In fact, the fellow in the photo above was protesting this very issue.

It does bother me that Voyages/Ayers Rock Resort don't officially use the name Uluru, although part of the charm of the travel experience relates signficantly to Aboriginal sacred sites and culture. It bothers me that the airport still uses the name Ayers Rock - it seems to me that that name could be phased out, and that there are certainly creative ways of handling tourist confusion. (If anyone cared enough to do so.)

It bothers me that they feel the need to grow grass in the desert. I thought one of the highlights of travel was to see something beside the normal suburban lawn you see day in, day out. In a time of drought, does it make sense to use up bore water so that grass can grow in the desert? (I was dismayed by the grass present throughout the resort when I visited in 2001, and do not know if it is still there.)

It also bothers me that on hotel bills that amount to hundreds of dollars per night, tourists are informed that one whole dollar of that fee is donated to Aborigines, as if trying to point out some kind of altruism. Additionally, Voyages/Ayers Rock Resort use Aboriginal symbols on their website, on hotel stationery, and in many other places, as part of their logo. This seems somewhat hypocritical to me. Why can't they use an Aboriginal name?

Many of the tours do incorporate elements of Aboriginal culture and history, and hire Aboriginal guides. People are travelling to see something different, to learn something different about the world, but they're getting a whitewash. They're giving a much higher proportion of money to those who are trying to draw focus away from the actual treatment of Aborigines in Australian history. Tourists end up participating in the debacle, being part of an unappealing history.

I was one of them.

Here's something from an Australian travel site advertising workshops that caught my attention - in light of the current Emergency Situation in Aboriginal communities:


Have you ever asked yourself, "What does it all mean? Does life make sense? How do I get more out of life? What can I do to have richer relationships and love life more?" Kim and Paul will facilitate a workshop that looks at what it means to be mature—in another time, we might have said, ‘to be wise’. Kim & Paul will offer participants new ways of understanding their own behaviour and that of others. Their holistic approach integrates emotional intelligence, spirituality and wisdom. On this foundation, you will build strategies for life and put them into practice in dealing with the inevitable hiccups and irritations that occur within a community. Everything that happens is grist to the reflective mill.

If you think of that paragraph in the context of the Emergency Situation in Aboriginal communities, can you think of the problems as 'hiccups and irritations that occur within a community'? Does it have any impact on how you would view travel to this area of the world?